Journalist's Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan: Bad Joke or Crime?

Nazira Aytbekova, a prominent television presenter in Kyrgyzstan, has brought criminal charges against tabloid journalists who abducted and threatened to kill her as a ‘practical joke’ for their newspaper.

According to Aytbekova [ru], who presents a popular entertainment program on Kyrgyz state TV, she was abducted at gunpoint and taken blindfolded to a deserted area outside Bishkek, the country's capital. Several men then forced her to undress partially, threatening to rape and kill her. One of the men recorded the entire process on a camera. After some time, Aytbekova was ordered to close her eyes. When she opened them again, she saw three journalists from the Bishkek-based tabloid Super-Info who told her that was a joke.

Aytbekova didn't like the ‘joke’, to say the least. Speaking to media after the incident, she said [ru] she had been ‘close to a heart attack’ during the abduction. The journalist's mother said Aytbekova has asthma and ‘anything could have happened to her’. The journalist filed a complaint with police.

Nazira Aytbekova bursts into tears as she talks to media about her ‘mock’ abduction. Still frame from video ‘Black humor or innocent prank?’ uploaded on YouTube November 2, 2012, by KTRKkg.

Disgust over the ‘joke’

The ‘mock abduction’ triggered a flurry of angry comments on news forum and in social media.

Alina Alymkulova tweeted [ru]:

@Alisha_A_: Ппц шуточки у “Супер-Инфо”.Всегда говорила,что дурацкая газета.Бедная Назира Айтбекова,могла инфаркт заработать,идиоты.

@Alisha_A_: ‘Super-Info’ has really [stupid] jokes. I've always said that this is a stupid newspaper. Poor Nazira Aytbekova, she could have had a heart attack. Idiots.

Zarema Zhunusova added [ru]:

@Zarema1407: И самое абсурдное,что если бы Айтбекова не подняла шумиху,то читатели лишь похихикали бы над этим “розыгрышем”, опубликованном в газете.

@Zarema1407: The most absurd thing is that had Aytbekova not raised a fuss [over the incident], the readers would have simply giggled when reading the ‘practical joke’ published in the newspaper.

Also on Twitter, Sumsarbek wrote [ru]:

@SumsarbekObbO: Сесуальное насилие – это не шутка!!!

@SumsarbekObbO: Sexual violence is not a joke!!!

User ‘smarty’ on news forum had [ru] a similar opinion:

…ну извините, иммитировать износилование это уже не есть розыгрыш!!! Правильно, с такими идиотами только судться.

…Sorry but [letting a woman feel that she is raped] is very far from being a joke!!! She is right, such idiots should be taken to court.

Punish the newspaper?

Some netizens believe that the newspaper where the journalists who abducted Aytbekova worked should also be penalized. For example, user ‘OOK’ proposed [ru]:

закрыть эту нудную газетёнку за такие розыгрыши…и привлечь к уголовной ответственности этих дебилов за нарушение прав свобод человека и принесения морального и физического вреда…!!

the boring newspaper should be closed for such jokes… and these idiots should be brought to account in a criminal court for violating the rights and freedoms of a person and causing moral and physical harm…!!

The newspaper Super-Info, however, claims the editorial staff did not authorize the use of intimidation and force by journalists who abducted Aytbekova. Two journalists who were involved in the incident have been fired.

But some netizens are not convinced. User ‘Nazgul’ wrote [ru]:

Руководство Супер инфо уже открестилось от этой истории, возложили вину на самих журналистов, но однако никто не задал вопроса о том, как такое может быть, чтобы журналисты все это творили без ведома руководства. В каждой редакции все действия журналистов обсуждаются на планерках утром, каждый день…

The management of the Super-Info has already said they had nothing to do with the incident, blaming the journalists for what had happened. However, nobody asked how it was possible for the journalists to do this [the abduction] without the management's knowledge. In any editorial office, journalists’ plans and activities for every day are discussed at morning meetings that take place every day…

The newspaper has acted quickly to minimize harm caused by the incident. As Adilet Kasymov alleges [ru] on

Я специально не поленился и посмотрел как они раньше других звезд разыгрывали. Вы удивитесь на сайте все розыгрыши удалили. А также редакция газеты в данное время обзванивают всех звезд которые ранее тоже были разыграны и всех их заставляют подписать что они по собственному желанию были разыграны…

I wanted to watch their practical jokes with other prominent individuals. You will be surprised, but they have removed all videos with these jokes from their website. In addition, the newspaper's editorial staff has been calling all the individuals who were also subjected to such jokes, asking them to sign documents stating that they had given their consent to participate in the practical jokes…

Yet, Nazira Aytbekova's husband says [ru] he will do everything to ensure that everyone complicit in his wife's abduction is punished:

То, что они сделали – это унижение, угроза изнасилования, угроза убийства. Все это будет рассматриваться согласно уголовному кодексу. Эти действия попадают под уголовную ответственность. Назад мы не пойдем. В редакции «Супер Инфо» меня не раз просили простить, но о прощении и речи быть не может.

What they did [can be categorized as] humiliation, the threat of rape, and the threat of murder. All these actions will be considered under the Criminal Code. All these actions are subject to criminal liability. We will not turn back. The editorial office of the newspaper Super-Info has asked me several times to forgive them, but forgiveness is out of the question.

This post is part of the GV Central Asia Interns Project at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.


  • FW

    WTH the title suggests? It is not a question at all! It is crime!

  • JuliannaSmith

    All I know is that abduction and threatening once life is a crime, no matter what aspect I may look like still what they did to Nazira Aytbekova is very wrong. Reading the article itself my blood boils for what they did to her. We could never consider things like this as a joke but in fact cruelty. She should find justice for what happened to her. Nowadays we can’t never tell when and where danger will strike, who would that be and what would they look like. We could also never know how will they hurt us. So all we need to do is to be prepared because everyone could be their victim like what happened to Nazira. Good thing I heard about this application while surfing in the net, I subscribed myself right away after reading the features. Here, check safetrec this may help you a lot.

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